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Pork producers urge USTR to recommit to aggressive trade agenda

The National Pork Producers Council has led 30 other agricultural organizations in urging the Biden administration’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to recommit to an aggressive trade agenda, hold trading partners to their commitments, and improve enforcement mechanisms for existing trade agreements.

In a letter sent to USTR’s Katherine Tai, the groups asked that she engage on trade policies “to bolster our global competitive standing around the world.”

They pointed out that U.S. agriculture is “foundational to the American economy,” supporting more than 48 million U.S. jobs, contributing $2.8 trillion in wages in 2023, and generating over $9.6 trillion in total economic output. Agricultural exports, which were more than $175 billion last year, account for about 20 percent of total production.

Despite the impressive numbers, the USDA estimated a fiscal 2023 – Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023 – agricultural trade deficit of $16.6 billion. It is only the fourth time over the past 55 years the balance of trade in farm goods has been in the red, and USDA is forecasting a bigger deficit for fiscal 2024.

NPPC has been urging USTR to open new and expand existing markets for U.S. pork through comprehensive trade agreements that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to American products. It supports enforcing international trade rules and ensuring that U.S. trading partners live up to their trade commitments.

In their latest Capital Update, NPPC notes how much agricultural trade is vital to America’s farmers and the overall U.S. economy.

"Over the past four decades – particularly since it began negotiating free trade agreements – the United States has had agricultural trade surpluses almost every year. For the U.S. pork industry, exports contribute significantly to producers’ bottom line. Last year, when producers shipped a record $8.16 billion of product to foreign destinations, those exports added the equivalent of $63.76 to the price producers received for each hog marketed and accounted for a record 29.6% of total production."

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